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Eating English in Jamaica : food, and Creole identity in seventeenth-century, medical discourse Hollett, Cathy-Rae


Food – its organization and consumption–offers a unique lens through which to understand the early workings of English colonialism, as well as national, bodily identity. In the seventeenth century English intellectuals sought to understand and prescribe national identity on a bodily level. However in the early stages of colonialism this same process was taking place across the Atlantic, in Jamaica, an island that supported a significantly different demographic makeup. Through the use of physicians’ casebooks, prescriptions and natural histories, buttressed with the words of English travelers, this paper argues that due to the efforts to encourage and define English bodily identity there was a simultaneous demarcation of an emerging Creole population. This Creole population was defined by what they were able to consume- particularly dishes such as turtle meat and chocolate.

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